Saturday, August 25, 2018

The ‘flying’ Sikh Raja of Chhachhrauli estate

When Wright Brothers invented an aeroplane in 1903, one could hardly imagine that an Indian king will fly his own aircraft within two decades. This ‘flying’ Sikh Raja was Ravi Sher Singh (1908-1947) of the erstwhile Kalsia estate of Chhachhrauli. He was the first king in India who purchased his own aircraft and flew it at a speed of 100 mph. He was a conscientious pilot. He trained himself at the National Flying Services Club at Hanworth, England. Back home, he was the first ‘royal’ to be trained by the Delhi Flying Club in 1930. It is interesting to note one of the instances when Raja Ravi Sher Singh, in response to whether he would arrive by car or by train to attend a meeting of the Chamber of Princes in New Delhi in March 1931, entered, ‘own aeroplane’ in the form that detailed his travel plan and arrangement thereof. He acquired a DH-60 M Moth, named Rio Rata plane, which he later sold to Raja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur. He indulged in his passion for flying by procuring another aircraft, a DH 80A Puss Moth, initially registered to Tata Sons, in June 1931. Unfortunately, a friend crashed and wrecked the aircraft in June 1935.
Kalsia state lasted for around 250 years (1711-1961) and nine rulers ruled during this period. The most modern and farsighted ruler of Kalsia state was Raja Ravi Sher Singh, born in 1902 (reign 1908-1947). He had his basic education at Mussoorie while residing at Balla Hissar Cottage. The untimely demise of his father Raja Ranjit Singh at a young age of 26 in 1908 left him distressed. But keeping all odds at bay, he learnt the manners of the state under the tutelage of Master Sant Singh at Chhachhrauli. British political agent Fanshawe wanted him to be educated at Aitchison Chief’s College in Lahore, and he attained good grades. Leslie-Jones, the principal of the college, acknowledged his intelligence and his tutors Bhai Kapoor Singh, PM Lawlor and FS Eden appreciated his learning faculties. His new tutor, Brig General ED Money advised him to be further educated in Europe, for which he sailed from India in 1920.
25/08/18 Virender Singh Dhillon/Tribune